Well, naming locations based on a description is a pretty simple way to do it, which is probably why it's so common in the older countries - it's easy, and it helped people get around when there weren't maps available. "Go to Flattop Hill and turn left" is a lot easier for someone to understand than "go to Elioshai and turn left" - what if the listener has no idea what "Elioshai" is? Hill? Forest? Town? Rock? New countries may "import" place names from their old country, or use (and often abuse) the names already applied by indigenous peoples. "Ohio" is an anglicized form of a Native American word meaning "beautiful river", for example.
The other common way of naming locations is naming them after someone important; "Seattle" (Seattle, WA) is actually based on the name of a Native American chief who lived in the area and negotiated with the white settlers coming in, although obviously the name has been anglicized for easier pronunciation (for those white settlers).
All that being said, I personally prefer to start with a name that describes the place; then, once I figure out what kind of people lives there and whether or not they're "new" residents, I can modify and/or replace names to match the naming conventions of that people.